Monday, June 7, 2010

Baby Steps

AHA! I can finally get on my blog! Oh, Blogger, you are not making any friends by acting up all the time.

Anyway, what I wanted to talk about today was Thing We Can Do To Be Green(er) This Summer. I've been a part of many of these types of convos here on the Interwebs, and I think we can all agree that Baby Steps is where it's AT, in terms of being more environmentally conscious.

This topic is on my mind because 'Tis the Season for BBQ's, picnics, porch meals, neighbors over for grilling, camping, etc. And we all know that the average Use Of Disposable Products increase- drastically- for these kinds of events.

So it works like this: I tell you the accumulating baby steps we've made to our lifestyle, and you tell me the baby steps you've made to yours, and then we all have ideas for more baby steps.

Baby steps! That's all it takes!

*We don't use disposable products- at all... ok hardly ever- anymore. We started by buying a stack of plastic plates (12, I think) to go with our already-in-use kids' IKEA plastic plates, and also kids' and adults' size plastic** cups. The cost was similar to buying packages of paper/plastic/Styrofoam dinnerware, and we've been washing and reusing ours for several years now. "Outdoor Dishes", FTW!

(**I know, I know, I'm a self-proclaimed Plastic Avoider. But I made an exception for our outdoor dishes, since plastic is SO MUCH easier to carry back and forth to picnics and porch dinners that our regular dishes. The regular ones are too heavy!)

*We use cloth napkins 100% of the time now. Except for when we use paper towels. Which isn't very much, I swear. I've purchased most of ours at thrift stores. We probably have 30? 40? I'm not sure, a big ol' stack. I have about 12 nicer ones that I "save" from the rest in case we have company for dinner, but that can be used if our regular stash runs low before I do laundry. (I keep a laundry basket at the top of the basement stairs to throw the dirty cloth napkins in. Also, wash clothes and dish towels. When we start running low, I toss the load it in the wash.)

*We don't buy bottled water all at anymore. Ever. Well, ok sometimes we do. But it's expensive! We all have reusable water containers that I keep clean, and sometimes I keep filled and in the fridge for easy grabbing. For times when we have more than just our family in the house, I fill a pitcher with ice water and add some lemon or lime slices. Since we have lots of big plastic cups, this works well.

*We use reusable containers or wax paper bags for packing lunches.

*Last summer we started composting. We compost anything raw (egg shells, fruit and veggie scraps) as well as coffee grounds and the occasional paper towel. It's really easy to do (it goes in an ice cream pail in the counter, and then is carried out to the pile as needed) and has noticeably reduced our weekly garbage quantity.

*We don't buy individual packages of chips, pretzels, raisins, etc. Instead we just throw in the big bag/box, and bring home what we don't eat. I buy the string cheese that comes in one big block, instead of wrapped separately. (We DO still rely on individual yogurt tubes. They are just so! easy! for the kids to grab...)

This summer, my baby step is going to be not buying juice boxes/pouches. I think that spending 60 seconds to mix up a pitcher/thermos of juice and grabbing a stack of kids' glasses will be not too much extra effort... and will produce much less waste.

So, what are your baby steps?


Jess said...

Ours are similar to yours. We have plastic "outdoor dishes," cloth napkins, a filtered water dispenser in our fridge door, etc. It does make a difference--albeit a small one.

Erin said...

Wax paper bags? How did I not know about these? Sounds fabulous. I really like the feel of wax paper. And THAT sounds like a really wierd thing to say.

d e v a n said...

we do most of those things you mentioned too, but my recent goal is to cut down on sandwich bag use! We're using more re-usable containers now. I recently bought Laptop Lunchboxes for the kids and they are GREAT.

Sarah said...

I know what Erin means- I like the feel of waxed paper too. Things we already do are using cloth napkins and reusable cups instead of water bottles or juice boxes. PLUS. My kids make a mess of themselves anytime they get a juice box or a capri sun pouch at anyone else's house, so I'm not eager to bring that mess into our house!
Goal this year: use cloth diapers or biodegradable for the new baby. Gulp. We shall see how that goes.

Marie Green said...

Erin, yes, waxed paper bags are awesome- they are just in the aisle with the other sandwich baggies. Cut-rite and Wax-on, I believe, are the brand names around here...

Marie Green said...

Oh! And Sarah- our goal if we have another babe is cloth too. I'll be interested in hearing about your experience...